Montreal conference fuels interest in things Polish, sparks worldwide initiatives

Nearly 120 young people of Polish descent from around the world gathered at the fifth Canadian edition of the Quo Vadis conference held August 16th-18th, 2013. They left with a reinforced will to promote an active Polonia, explore their Polish identity and culture, develop and complete local and international projects, increase the visibility of their communities, transfer knowledge from current leaders to the next generation, and collaborate with Poland.

“I find it crucial for people living in Poland to understand that better cooperation and exchanges of ideas with Polonia could bring magnificent results to the development and economic growth of our country,” says Marek Przytuła, who came from Poland to be both a speaker and delegate of the conference. “I had the opportunity to meet amazing people with a clear vision of empowering Poles living abroad and building an international community.”

The theme of this year’s Canadian conference was “Connecting Cultures”, encouraging delegates to bring back what they learned at the conference to their local communities, including in Canada, USA, Australia, UK, and Poland.

QV Montreal also attracted Polonophiles. The event’s opening ceremonies was notably attended by Mr. Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Canada, the Honorable Mr. Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Ted Opitz, MP for Etobicoke Center, Helene LeBlanc, MP for Lasalle-Emard, and Mr. Michel Bissonnet, Member of the City of Montreal executive committee. A message from the Minister of Economy of Poland was read by Rafał Pawlak, Trade Commissioner of Poland in Canada. Musical performances included jazz by Jacques Kuba Séguin and the national anthem sung by Katy Carr. The African American pianist and recipient of the first Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award in 1949, Roy Eaton, inspired attendees with his performances and keynotes regarding the overcoming of adversity.

In addition to the Montreal conference, two other Quo Vadis conferences have been organised this year: one in Connecticut in the USA and one in Sydney, Australia. “The fact that the Quo Vadis conference series is expanding internationally and growing in popularity demonstrates the necessity of this type of networking event within the international Polonia community” explains Tamara Sztorc, president of the executive committee of Quo Vadis Montreal. Mr. Andrzej Szydło, the Consul General of Poland in Montreal and the official Patron of the conference, adds that “the Quo Vadis conference is one of the most important Polish forums in the world right now”.

Polish youth beyond Poland’s borders continue to work to maintain both their cultural communities and cultural identities. They made plans for the development of exchanges and ties with Poland. QV Montreal made it clear that Poland and Poles have a voice in Canada and around the world. Conference sessions included an international and intergenerational panel of community representatives discussing the strengths, challenges, and future directions of Polish communities, along with a half-day workshop where delegates worked together to develop objective plans for projects and timelines to be completed.

The world is open to keep the ties alive and to make new ones with Poland. Just two weeks after the conference, there have been plans to revive Poland in the Rockies, developments to further fund and develop the international scope and influence of the Cosmopolitan Review, and the establishment of the Polish Canadian Law Association (PCLA).

“At the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting over a hundred talented, educated, and ambitious young Polish people who will be future leaders and professionals” says Kamil Podleszański, delegate and founder of PCLA. “We since created the group as a way for lawyers, law students, and prospective students to network, share information, and provide each other advice on our profession, ultimately strengthening the potential for Polish lawyers. We will also assist with Polish community projects.”

Be sure to keep an eye out for the Quo Vadis conference report and newsletter, as well as for the community projects that have emerged as a result of the Montreal conference.

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